When the train reached Kottayam railway station, I was so excited. I didn’t want to waste time walking, so I took an auto rickshaw to go home. There were lots of things I wanted to do. First thing is to get a Christmas tree andthen I will help my sisters to make a crib and we will place it near the entrance. I alse wanted to bake a Christmas cake.
When the auto reached the main gate, I was so disappointed to notice that, my sisters haven’t even bothered to hang the christmas star.
I took my handbag to pay the auto driver
“Where are you coming from?” He asked “From Bangalore ah?” He looked at me
I looked at him. He was about 26 0r 27 years old and why does he want to know where I came from?
I ignored the question
“Is this your home?” He wasn’t going to give up
“No” I spoke
“It is my husband’s house” I spoke
“oh, you are married ah!”
“Ah” I gave him the money and walked inside. I never understood the malayalee mentality. They all seems to wanting to know everyone’s personal details. As though, their entire survival depends on knowing other people’s life history.
Sally came out to see who has come
“Hey, it is Nina” She shouted
She ran to me and held me tightly and gave me a hug
“Missed you Nina” She spoke
“I missed you too Sally”
“Why haven’t you hung the star?” I asked her
“Amma said this year we can’t hang the star”
“because, Appa is not with us and Amma says, it is not fair, we get to celebrate while he is all alone”
“Oh! but he has always been all alone!”
“Yeah!, But you know Amma”
Liza was sitting infront of the TV and watching some Hindi movie. She didn’t even bother to get up and say hello to me.
“Hi Liza, How are you?” I asked her
“Good”, She spoke without even taking her eyes off the TV
“Where is Amma?” I asked Sally.
“Gone out in the morning”
“hmm”, saturday also, she won’t stay at home, even when she knows I am coming back, still she can’t stay back and wait for me.
“What is for lunch?” I asked Sally
“Rice with what?” I asked Sally
“There is kapalanga thoran(green papaya with coconut)”
My mother couldn’t cook anything special for me, even when she knows, hostel food is really terrrible
With a heavy heart, I took some rice and a bit of kapalanga thoran(green papaya with coconut). It was too dry and I searched the fridge for some gravy. There was nothing. Finally I found the bottle of yogurt in the bottom rack of the fridge. I opened the bottle and poured some yogurt on to my rice. It smelled awful, but I was hungry. Just when I was about to mix the rice, I saw something moving.
I lifted the plate to have a closer inspection. There were tiny worms all over the yogurt.
I didn’t know if I should cry or laugh. Here I am, grand daughter of a janmi(feudal lord?), daughter of a senior British government employee, and now having to eat worms for lunch. I threw the plate in to the sink. I thought of taking the next train and going back to Bangalore. Atleast I won’t have to eat worms in the hostel. But what will I tell my seniors? That my mother’s idea of lunch is kapalanga thoran and worms?
“Sally have you eaten something?” I asked her
“I had bread for breakfast”
“Go, get ready, We will go out and eat”
“Can I come too?” Liza asked
“Ofcourse you can. You are my sister, for heaven’s sake”
Together we walked to Lakshminivas restaurent on KK road. On the way we passed by BCM college and I looked at my former alma mater. I didn’t feel any nostalgia. I was just glad that I didn’t have to deal with nuns any more.
The restaurent was crowded. We found a table near the entrance and ordered 3 Ghee Dosai. Everyone was looking at us.
‘Why is it a big crime, if a woman goes to a restaurent to eat?’ I didn’t have an answer
Liza finished her dosai fast and was looking at my plate
“Do you want another one?” I asked her
“Can I?” She looked at me, trying to see, if I would be angry
“Ofcourse” I orederd another dosai for her
“My god, look at her da, she eats more than us” I heard someone speaking from the table behind me, I turned to look at him.
“Is that a boy or a girl?” Asked his friend
“What is your problem?” I got up from my seat and walked towards the table behind me
“Oh nothing, We were just joking” Both of them were grinning that ugly smile.
“If my sister wants to eat, one or two or three dosai, that would be none of your business. I am the one who is paying for it. And as long as you are not asked to pay for it, you will shut your bloody mouth! Do you understand that?” I was so mad.
They both pretended to eat the food infront of them.
I walked back to my table to find Liza weeping
“Why are you crying now?” I asked her
“Nina, I told Amma so many times, not to cut my hair short, but she won’t listen. See, everyone laughs at me”
Only then it occured to me, Amma never lets me,Liza or Sally to grow our hair, at the same time, she lets Maria to grow her hair. She always pestered and nagged me, if my hair was an inch long. She always insisted that I get a boy’s hair style. I didn’t understand why she was doing that. I will ask her that today
After eating dosai, we went to Seematti junction and bought a Christmas star. A simple red star, with hundreds of neat holes punched on the paper. The light would shine nicely from inside the star
“Nina can we have some fire crakers?” Sally asked. There was a fire cracker seller across the road.
“Sally, they are expensive, I don’t have that much money” She looked disappointed. But I only had 20 Rs with me
“Come let us go” I held her hands and started to walk towards home.
I remembered all the time, Appa bought Fire crackers for me. he bought them for Deepavali, Christmas and for Chinese New year. My sisters were too young then. I didn’t think they would even remember the time when we were in Malaysia.
“Wait here, I will come now” I made them wait infront of Seematti and walked back to the Fire cracker stall.
The seller had a push cart in front of him with so many different types of fire crackers. poothiri, rocket, amittu, eru padakkam, nila chakram, all colourfully wrapped. Most of the buyers were father’s with little children and I watched the children pointing to the crackers in the packets and the fathers buying it. My father used to do that. He bought me what ever I asked him.
When the crowd infront of the seller disappeared, I walked up to him
“Chetta, I only have 20 Rs, give me any fire crackers you have for that money”
He looked at me and at the 2 ten Rs notes in my hand
“You can’t get anything for that price”
“I know, Please chetta, give me something. I am all my sisters have and I want to buy it for them” I pointed to my sisters waiting infront of Seematti
“Where is your father?”
I shrugged my shoulder, How can tell him, my father is working in Dubai? Why would I be begging when my father is alive and earning a good income. Tears were threatening to break free from my eyelids, perhaps the seller saw it.
He took few eru padakkam and few of poothiri and put in a plastic bag and gave it to me
I whispered a silent thank you and walked back home with my sisters.